This week, Gary interviews Nikki Scott – a backpacker, business owner and publisher of the South East Asia Backpacker magazine and online portal.
An experienced traveller, Nikki founded the magazine in 2008 from her base in Bangkok before taking the business online.
In this week’s pod, she discusses her travel inspirations, favourite destinations and provides fascinating insights into how backpacking is evolving as technology and places change, and more Asian backpackers seek new adventures.
01:11 The concept of backpacking has changed significantly, and become more varied
“The demographics are very diverse now. You can go on a one-week holiday or take the family backpacking. Retired people are going backpacking, and some people are even making backpacking a full-time job.”
02:55 There are now more Asian backpackers travelling in South East Asia
“Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Filipinos especially are into backpacking and travel blogging.”
04:15 Popular backpacker destinations are changing
“Sihanoukville in Cambodia is an example of how a backpacker hangout has become a resort destination that backpackers now tend avoid.”
05:20 Nikki’s history as a backpacker
“I first started at the age of 23 in Nepal, then travelled in Thailand and the Banana Pancake Trail through South East Asia. Backpacking opened my eyes, and completely changed my life.”
07:00 In 2008, Nikki founded the South East Asia Backpacker magazine
“There were lots of local magazines and guides I picked up as I travelled, but nothing focused on the backpacker magazine. So I thought ‘Maybe I can create my own!’”
“I set up a base in Bangkok, where we produced, printed and distributed each issue – sometimes using tuk-tuks and longtail boats.”
09:45 More advertisers wanted to advertise on the website, so the magazine moved online as a digital magazine and a popular Facebook page
“We wanted to bring backpackers, expats and travel business owners together as a forum to chat about travel issues in South East Asia.”
11:25 Nikki discusses how she wrote her book, Backpacker Business
“It was written as my farewell to South East Asia after living there for five years. I wanted to show the real side of living, working and setting up a business in Thailand. It wasn’t always easy!”
12.45: Recently, she has been developing the South America Backpacker website
“Our aim is to make it as big as the South East Asia Backpacker business, and there is definitely a crossover between backpacking in the two regions.”
14:25 The impact of coronavirus on backpacking and the South East Asia Backpacker
“It’s completely changed our business. We hope backpacking can be a resilient form of tourism, but it’s impossible to predict.”
16:00 Nikki reads out some feedback and comments on COVID-19 and backpacking from travellers and backpacker business owners.
“When you are backpacking you want escapism, to get away from the world. This is going change that; you need to stay in touch with what’s happening.”
19.20 What are currently the hot backpacker activities in South East Asia?
“An activity tends to stand out in one place, and that brings travellers. All backpackers come and want to do that particular adventure – whether its rock climbing, trekking, paddle-boarding, surfing or tubing. The trends do move very quickly.”
21:00 Where’s next on Nikki’s travel radar?
“It’s hard to imagine trip planning at the moment, but Brazil for sure – and I’d still like to come back and see more of South East Asia, especially parts of Indonesia and the Philippines.”
22:15 Looking back, what would you have done differently as a backpacker?
“I’d like to have eaten more street food, and manage my budget better.”
South East Asia Backpacker link HERE
South America Backpacker link HERE
Backpacker Business (Nikki’s Book) HERE